What Can African Countries Do in the Face of Inflation and Rising Cost of Living

Global wheat, sunflower, and crude oil prices have surged to historic heights in just a few weeks. According to the United Nations, Africa is strongly reliant on food imports from both countries, and the continent is already facing price shocks and supply chain disruptions.

The war has had an impact on Africa’s food security, and due to inflation more Africans face starvation today than last year. 

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Russia and Ukraine are the major exporters of wheat and sunflower to Africa. 80% of wheat imports come from North Africa, Nigeria in West Africa, Ethiopia and Sudan in East Africa, and South Africa. 

By 2025, Africa’s wheat consumption is expected to reach 76.5 million tonnes, with 48.3 million tonnes (63.4%) imported from elsewhere in the continent.

Due to the shutdown of critical port operations in the Black Sea, the sanctions placed on Russia by Western countries will continue to worsen business between Russia and Africa.

Russia is one of the world’s leading fertilizer exporters and concerns are mounting that a global fertilizer shortage would lead to higher food costs, affecting agricultural production and food security.

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The Way Forward for Africa.

While the socio-economic consequences are already severe and the situation remains volatile, Africa must use the current geopolitical crisis to minimize its dependency on food imports from outside the continent.

African countries must take advantage of their 60% share of global arable land to increase food production for internal consumption and export to the global market. This would reduce the number of individuals experiencing food and nutrition insecurity as a result of natural disasters.

To avoid future food price shocks caused by rising global oil and gas prices. African countries must increase their oil and gas production and exploration capabilities to fill any gaps that may arise as a result of supply chain disruption among major global suppliers.

Algeria, Sudan, and Tanzania, among other African countries that generate fuel and gas, should look into increasing production and filling the gas and oil gap within the continent and abroad to ease fuel price shocks, which might lead to lower food costs.

Extreme weather events and climate change, limited adoption of yield-increasing technologies, reliance on rain-fed agriculture and low levels of irrigation, and, most recently, the spread of autumn armyworm in areas of Africa, are all difficulties that African food systems continue to face.

Climate change has put an additional 38 million people in Africa in danger of famine and poverty. Climate-resilient technologies offer Africa significant prospects to boost food production and productivity while also increasing resilience and reducing poverty and hunger.

While large-scale food producers on the continent have made significant progress in adopting and using information and communication technologies, small-scale producers, processors, and retailers have yet to fully reap the benefits of digital innovations in terms of accessing extension services, markets, and financial services.

Increasing African agriculture’s competitiveness also necessitates the implementation of biotechnology, especially enhanced seed types, as well as strong food production policy frameworks. Biotechnology is expected to accelerate growth, create wealth, and feed an African population expected to reach 2.2 billion people by 2050.

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